Coping with grief is a difficult task. Many of us have different methods for coping with grief. A recent article by Psychology Today discussed how boys and girls handle grief differently. In the book Grief Beyond Gender: Understandings the Ways Men and Women Mourn, Dr. Terry Martin discusses the two patterns of grieving.
Styles of Grief
The first style of coping with grief is an intuitive pattern where individuals experience and express grief in an effective way. In this pattern, grieving individuals find strategies that are focused toward the expression of affect. The second pattern of coping with grief, is one that is labeled instrumental. Here, grief is experienced physically, such as in a restlessness or thought. Here the strategies individuals use tend to be, cognitive and active as well.
Some individuals may show a mix of patterns that draw from both intuitive and instrumental reactions and responses in the ways that individuals experience, express, and adapt to coping with grief. Other individuals may show inconsistencies between the ways that grief is experienced and expressed. These inconsistent patterns are labeled as dissonant.
As society we believe that there is a clear relation between gender and coping with grief, but this has been shown to not necessarily be true. The instrumental pattern of dissonant, is typical in the way many men grieve, due to contemporary patterns of male socialization. Women also may exhibit an instrumental style. And many women and men represent grievers who demonstrate more intuitive patterns. Clearly, patterns are influenced by gender but not determined by it.
Tips on Coping with Grief
If you find yourself have difficulty coping with grief, here are some tips on how to deal with grief in a healthy and productive way.
- Listen. Don’t ignore your emotions–if you need to cry, that’s fine; if you need to sob, that’s fine; if you need to talk to someone, that’s fine. The important thing is to listen to what your body and feelings are trying to tell you.
- Breathe. Deep breaths help trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you calm yourself down when things get tough.
- Be Aware. When dealing with teen grief, don’t just float through the days; take a moment to be mindful of what’s happening currently to you and others around you.
- Cry. There’s a huge stigma against crying, but it’s your body’s way of coping and instead of avoiding it when you feel it coming, let it out.
- Enjoy. Try to notice the small things that improve your day, like the taste of coffee or hitting 3 green lights in a row.
- Don’t Be Hard on Yourself. Don’t think about other’s expectations of you, just your own. Be realistic and stop thinking about what you should do for other people–focus on you.
Solstice East can help
Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with teen depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral issues. We strive to help our girls lead themselves back onto a path of health and happiness.
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